Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Great Re-Reader

Posted for the 30 Days of Books blogfest, courtesy of The Indie Exchange)

Today's subject is : A book that you have read more than three times.

Aha! I have the answer at my fingertips : Jane Eyre. I've read that book so many times that I've gone through five copies now. My husband, when he catches me in the middle of it again, says, "Not that Janet Eerie again." (Shocker, he hasn't read it.)

I love her, because she refuses to drown in a "bathos of sentiment" with Mr. Rochester. Bathos is the perfect word here - a different woman would melt instantly into his arms, but Jane will have none of it.


I first read the book when I was in fifth grade. At the time, I sucked it down for the adventure and the story, as well as the descriptions of parties and beautiful dresses. Later, the quotes about bathos and deglutition hit me, so that reading the book became an entirely different experience. Jane herself emerged, like those tea flowers that open slowly in warm water.

Yup, I love Jane, and here's why:

Because she was so mystical. She had prophetic dreams, she drew elves and the North Star, she saw a ghost in the Red Room. 

Because she felt excitement, even in the middle of a most hopeless situation. "The crisis was perilous; but not without its charm: such as the Indian, perhaps, feels when he slips over the rapid in his canoe."

Because, even when faced with a beautiful rival who is rich and favored, Jane sees the truth. "She could not charm him."

And then there is this passage, that formed an important section in A Room of One's Own, by Virgina Woolf:

"Nobody knows how many rebellions besides political rebellions ferment in the masses of life which people earth.  Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags."

So I will read Jane Eyre (and her difficult, more dramatic cousin, Wuthering Heights) again to find the new delights that keep popping up, like a search through an old attic. There are many, many books I've read again and again - The Hobbit and Mistress Masham's Repose among them, but this is my favorite.

As for my Indie counterpart, I immediately thought of Sax and the Suburb by Marilyn Rucker, which recently won a BRAG medallion. You can read my complete review here. I'm not a mystery fan, but Rucker charmed me right away with her humor, her characters (the father who is a hoarder, the boss who falls asleep on the floor in the office, and even the dead mother) and the lovely little romance within. 

Are there any similarities between the two books? Not at all, at first glance. One is a mystery set in Texas, the other is a 19th century literary romance. Yet there is a certain charm and magic in both. In Rucker's book,  Miranda, the main character, dreams about her dead mother who takes her heart out of her chest and offers it to Miranda. That sounds ghoulish, but in the dream it is a cute heart-shaped box of candy. 

I love that image, and Rucker makes it work. I'll read that book again too.

Reading is great, and sometimes re-reading is better. I heartily recommend these titles for both.

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